At the End of the Day…

On Monday I quietly celebrated in my heart the fact that my son had been clean 24 hours longer than ever before. The days leading up to it I hung on as tight as I could to hope that he would make it. He has not made it past 5 months clean since this battle ensued many many months ago. Matter of fact I wouldn’t even speak about it. I refused to.

In my heart of hearts I wanted to believe he would make it and keep going. With nearly every fiber of my being I was holding out for it. But I would be remiss if I didn’t speak to the other few fibers, the fibers of fear and doubt. (The fibers that suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.) The ones that are that small voice I hear in my head when I haven’t heard from him, or when I do hear from him. Those fibers that want to scream… PLEASE NO… NOT A RELAPSE!!!

I want the majority of the Fibers of my Being to celebrate each day that he stays clean. I have learned from a friend of mine that though the milestone days are great victories, the real victory is the battle they fight daily, when the day is done and they lay their head down for the night, if it’s been a day that they have lived clean and walked in Recovery it is a day to celebrate!

In this mother’s heart I will keep silent track of each new milestone (like the 6 month mark just a few days before my birthday) But I will keep ever before me that the greatest of victories is never further away than the end of the day lived clean.

Y – Yield Everything to God

Here we are at the last of the SANITY principals.  These 6 principals are what I cling to in this Journey.  And as I continue to blog you will see them weaved in and out of my life experiences.

Yielding our lives, yielding over control coming to the place where we completely understand we can not control our addict can be a scary place.  But please read on and see why its so important to:

Yield Everything to God;

“Here you go God, he/she is all yours I’m done”.

Sounds so simple doesn’t it,

I can’t tell you how many times I said that and meant it.  Then before I even knew what I was doing I was taking my addict right out of God’s hand and trying once again to fix him myself.   And truth be told I wasn’t capable of fixing anything.  Matter of fact I can’t even fix myself.

I firmly believe the first thing we need to Yield to God is:  OURSELVES.  We have as much hope of fixing our enabling and our need to be in charge as we do of fixing our addicts.  And the sooner we admit that, the sooner we will hand our addicts over to God and NOT take them back.

What does yielding oneself even look like?  Because if it looks like weakness we are not apt to do it are we?  It’s actually quite the opposite and if we understand that change needs to happen with us first before we can start to expect change to happen in our addict we will be willing to Yield.  To let go of trying to control even our own lives.

Leslie Vernick in her book: The Emotionally Destructive Relationships writes;

“…deeper and more lasting change usually comes about when we regularly practice letting go rather than doing more… What if, in the end, Jesus isn’t going to tell us everything we’ve ever done wrong or failed to do? What if he’s going to show us the person we could have become and the things we could have done if only we allowed him to heal and mature us?” 

Allison Bottke states:  “

“True healing begins when we make the head-heart connection that we must “let go and let God” concerning all things, not just the painful situations concerning our adult children.  This kind of surrender doesn’t mean we are giving up, that we no longer care what happens to our adult children. On the contrary, it means we relinquish their care to a far greater and infinitely more powerful Caregiver.  It means at last that we have come to the end of our own selfishness and can now see the possibilities available when we step out  of the way of spiritual progress”

And just like our dysfunctional addicts who easily slip back into their destructive behaviors if they are not yielding their lives over, so will we.  If their recovery mirrors ours, or is at least a few steps behind us, shouldn’t we do whatever it takes to begin the process.  Even if it means “letting go and letting God” start with us.

I have found myself right back at the enabling door ready to walk through it several times.  It’s familiar, and can feel so right.  I’m a parent, I’m supposed to provide and protect right? If I don’t yield over my behavior, willing open up the clenched fists with which I hold my will, and lift it up to the One who desires to work in me and through me, how pray tell can I even fathom that I would do so with my addict.

Yielding over that control has to start with me, then and only then will I understand the true benefit in doing so with my addict.

Drug Take Back Day ~ October 29, 2011

Today, in several communities in the South Coast Area the DEA in conjunction with the local Police are holding a Drug Take Back Day.  Please see the list below and bring ANY and ALL of your Unused, No longer Needed Prescription Drugs.

Starting at 10AM – 2PM in ALL LOCATIONS










T – Trust Your Instincts

You know that feeling you get in your gut, the one that tells you something is wrong, very wrong.  It’s that gnawing that just won’t go away.   That is the feeling we need to trust.  We’ve all had it, and not just about our addict or addiction related things.

I can remember walking in my home for the first time.  We had walked into many during our search for a new house.  I can remember sitting down on the hearth and just having this sense in my gut… this is the place.  That feeling of certainty.  Its just with addiction, that certainty is of the negative sense.

Intuitions, or gut feelings, are sudden, strong judgments whose origin we can’t immediately explain. Although they seem to emerge from some inner force, they actually begin with a perception of ; a facial expression, a tone of voice, an inconsistency so fleeting you’re not even aware you noticed.  That intuition or gut feeling becomes an instant mental matching game. The  brain takes in a situation, does a very quick search of its files, and then finds its best match among the stored memories. Based on that you r gut responds to the situation standing in front of you.

In “Setting Boudaries with Your Adult Children” Allison Bottke write:

Parents often know in their gut when things aren’t right – when that inner voice speaks to their hearts about a specific situation or issue. .. Nowhere does the need to trust our instincts hold truer than when we suspect our adult children are on drugs… its like a sixth sense alarm goes off on our hearts and souls, shrilling a warning to take heed. A warning many of us have ignored for too long.

I’ve ignored it… I’ve pushed it away because I didn’t want to buy into it.  My head would over rule it with the “Not My Kid” theology I tried to convince myself of.  I know that hiding my head in the sand for a time was the only way I managed to survive.  But truth always finds it way through the barriers we place around our hearts.  I have learned to listen to my gut, it is usually pretty intune with what is happening with my addict.

Although I will confess that during times of his walking strong in his recovery my gut has flinched when it was ok to believe.  With all that I have been through, even my gut has experienced Post Traumatic Stress.  But I will still take notice when it sends up flares that it senses something is wrong…  because I know I can no longer ignore the problems that addiction bring to our lives.

Trust your instincts…

I – Implement Rules and Boundaries

This is where the rubber starts to meet the road.  For too long we have drawn lines in thesand.  Lines become easily erased with the passing of time as we start to let things slide.  If we are going to go through the effort of Setting Rules and Implementing Boundaries they must be something we can live with and stand firm in.
Allison Bottke states in her book…

Implementing rules and boundaries is a major part of acquiring the strength we’re going to need on the journey.
Some “musts” in defining those rules and boundaries.
·      We must have a clearly defined action plan before confronting our adult children.
·      We must establish consequences and stick with them.
·      We must present a unified front if we are married.
·      We must not get involved in debate, discussion,or trying to help our adult children figure things out
·      We must encourage our adult children to figure things out for themselves
·      We must be willing to ask ourselves, “Who am I outside of this issue/child?”
·      We must be willing to shift the focus off ouradult children and onto our own lives.

This process is not for the faint of heart.  It will take thought, time and understandingof what we have let happen in the past. And we will need strength to stand firm in this; as I have stated before, once you begin this process you will be met with chaos from your adult child.  They will not understand nor like these new boundaries and will fight against them.  They will pull out every weapon o fmanipulation they can find to use against you.
The word Boundary implies “you can go this far and no further” like a fence or a wall.  It is put in place for the protection of those on each side of it, and to uphold something of importance.  Helping our addicted loved ones requires these boundaries to be put in place and for them to stay in place.  Their growth and our sanity will depend on it.
Doing this in our family has been absolutely paramount.  Before this our lives were filled with the constant chaos and upheaval that addiction brings.  The unwarranted guilt that I carried because my son had gotten caught up in addiction made me feel like I had to do it all; fix his problems, pay his bills, find his way for him… the truth is; by doing those things I was robbing him of the much needed work he needed to do to own his place in the addiction process and too find the reasons to fight his way out.
I will promise you this won’t be easy, but it will eventually bring peace to your home and potentially new life to our addict.

N – Nip Excuses in the Bud

For a couple of days now I have been attempting to write on this topic, first formulating it in my mind before it ever hits the keyboard.  And amusingly enough I do believe God had me wait to write because He had some fresh material from which He would inspire me.  (Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor!)

Nipping excuses in the bud…

Meaning:Put a stop to something while it is still inits early development.
Origin: This phrase derives from the de-budding of plants

I believe we can get a pretty clear picture from these two statements just what is meant to take place when we Nip excuses.  If we ‘nip’ off the buds of a plant,  it doesnot flower, and if it doesn’t flower, the seed inside the flower will not fall back to the ground and try to grow and bloom again.  – A could be viscous cycle is stopped.

Allison Bottke states in her book on pg 117:

When we make the decision to resign from the role of enabler in our children’s dramas, the story line, as many of us know from experience can quickly turn tomelodrama. Face it, many of our children have continued so long in their present situations because they’ve been good at manipulation. It’s difficult sometimes for us to accept this ugly fact. We want so much to believe them when they tell us what turns out to be a lie or a rather overdramatized truth. –Real healing begins when a parent stops believing the excuses and lies and insists on the truth.

Yesterday began as many days do, with a quick hi and how’s your day going from my son.  By late in the day a second call came telling me he had just hung around all day, nothing major or earthshattering about his day.  – It didn’t take long before the calls started coming in one right after another; insisting he needed me to do something for him immediately.  His day’s story changed to suit his now impending emergency; in my spirit I knew this was going south fast and he would and could easily cycle out of control. 

As he began his litany of excuses, I could feel myself getting sucked into the drama, the only way I could stop that was to hang up the phone.  I know he wasn’t expecting that.  But I believe it made a statement.  I let some time pass before we spoke again, this time I had prepared myself, knew I had to stand firm and not except his excuses, half-truths and lies.  I firmly believe this is an important step for us as the loved ones of an addict.  Taking the time to STOP – collect our thoughts, our strength and if you believe in prayer, to pray; will be absolutely paramount to keeping ourselves on tract.

Later that evening when we spoke again, the conversation turned, he began to listen and the God given words that came from heart somehow stopped both of us.  Atleast I know they stopped me. (I can only speak for myself and where I am at today) I have to be responsible for my excuses.  I can easily slip right back to enabling him, and literally in the blink of an eye.

Keeping my Recovery right in front of me at all times is hard work.  Remembering the SANITY principles, and listening to that still small voice in head when it says “Nip the excuses in the Bud” or Stop the enabling, or call someone you need support right now; is what helps me do that. 

SANITY…its what we all need to get through this.

A ~ Assemble a Support Group

In order to do this we have to first get the words out of our mouth…

Help! I am the mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife of an addict.  With that finally out in the open we can find the support, encouragement and even accountability we will need to walk the path of our Recovery.   

Allison Bottke says it best in her Book when she says:

(pg 111) “As the first step of stopping our enabling behavior is being implemented, enjoying the support of others is crucial. Parents in pain need support; understanding, encouragement and accountability from other swho have traveled this painful journey and come out on the other side – or those who are currently walking the journey with us… (pg 116) Many parents have grown accustomed to maintaining a kind of silent shame about the circumstances and issues surrounding their adult children. Assembling a support group is the last thing we want.  Yet is one of the first things we must do to gain strength in a season of life that will most certainly require every ounce of fortitude we can muster”

I think this is one of my favorite components of the Sanity principals.   If I had stayed alone in my pain over being the mother of an addict I don’t know where I’d be today.  I am blessed to have an amazing support group,and I strongly believe that each of us needs this more than we are willing to admit.
Mine consists of:
My husband; a man who loves me with every fiber of his being and has unselfishly loved my son (his step son) even though many times he was the target of the theft that occurred due to my son’s need for more drugs.  My man has held we when I have cried, cheered me on as I got stronger and never once stopped me from seeking other support and help.
I have some very dear girl friends that though they do not have an addict in the family, they have had my back.  We would meet once a week for dinner and it was at one of these dinner times that one of them handed me Allison’s book.  These women have directed me,encouraged me, asked some hard questions; like… “How long are going to keep doing that”.  My dearest and best friend Gayle (read her blog here)has helped me dig deep inside of myself and often has encouraged me to place it all in the hands of God.  The one who knows my son and loves him even more then I do.
And along the way I have met another parent of an addict, (read his blog here)  who is a few years ahead of me on this journey. His wisdom and forthrightness has helped push me forward, and has helped me believe in myself.  And has been a model of what this Journey can bring, with its twists, turns, valleys and joys.
I urge you, Assemble a group of people around you.  You will need them on your Journey to Recovery, put aside your fears and shame. Stop worrying about what other people will think of you when you tell them…
 “I need help, I’m the _________ of an addict.

S ~ Stop the Enabling

Getting hit with the reality of being an enabler was a pretty hefty blow to this mother’s heart. Never would I have put myself willingly into that category.  Being the mother of an addict is one of the most difficult things I have endeavored. Reading Allison’s book (and re-reading it) has literally brought me out the darkness of enabling.
I have met many parents and loved ones whose hearts have been ripped out by addiction, who also walk the path of enabling on the way to their own Recovery.  Each of us believes with all our heart that we will be the one to save our addict, to save them from drugs, from themselves and from the shunning of the family and their peers.  We believe what we are doing is keeping them safe, fed, a roof over their head.  When infact what it is doing is feeding the addiction. If we are truthful it’s feeding both ours (our addiction to our addict) and theirs
Leslie Vernick, author of “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship” says it best:
“Fear grabs us when we think that if we say no, our adult child will make a worse mess of his or her life, and we will have to live with the pain and/or shame of those consequences. Guilt motivates us because we often feel that somehow we failed our adult child because of something we did or didn’t do when they were younger.
I had to admit that one of the reasons I enabled was becauseI was afraid of what others thought about me as a parent.  I thought if I hid the fact that my son was an addict, if I helped him look like a regular adult child, I wouldn’t have to bare the shame.  It became about hiding the truth.  Somehow I believed that giving him money, a place to live, clothes etc. would help hide the fact that he was aheroin addict.
By enabling him, I was a dance partner in the mess and chaos of his addiction.  Every time I gave him money, allowed him to live in my home while he was doing drugs, I was joining him on the dance floor.  Both of us trying to lead the other in a different direction.
When we begin to recognize we are enabling and we find it in ourselves to STOP and start applying it to our addict’s life, know that it will get ugly for a while.  They will rebel against it; there will be chaos that will ensue. They will find themselves alone on the dance floor and will do all they can to manipulate you back out onto the floor.  But know this… our doing this,our stopping our enabling and our refusing to take part in the dance, it will force them to see they no longer have a dance partner; they will be in their addiction mess alone.
When we STOP enabling it begins to “raise the bottom”, n olonger will we have to wait for them to “hit bottom”, we can become part of what helps them get there quicker.  And that bottom will be where Recovery can begin.


As I have now walked this road of Recovery as a parent of an addict, I have held fast to the Sanity Principles in Allison Bottke’s Book; “SettingBoundaries with Your Adult Children”.
Last winter I did a four part series on her book. (this link will bring you to them). And I thought it was time to go back and write about each of the Sanity Principles and what they have looked like in my life.
Over the next two weeks I will put out 6 blogs, I hope you will join me.

Something’s Happening to Me

When my son was about 3 years old our family spent the weekend in the Poconos at a lovely resort. We were there for part business, part family fun. The condo we stayed in had a Jacuzzi Room. The kids couldn’t wait to try out that HUGE tub.

On our first night there I ran the water for them to take a “bath”. I added a bit of shampoo for bubbles and turned the jets on. My two daughters ran to change into swimsuits to bathe with their three year old brother, but my son climbed right in. Not much time had passed when I heard a small voice coming from the Jacuzzi room…

“Something’s happening to me… something’s happening to me”.

I walked into the room to find my three year old standing in the tub with bubbles up to about his ears. It was a preciously funny site. I have told and retold that story many times over the years. It always hit me what a profound statement that was for a child to utter regarding his surroundings.

Fast forward 21 years, my son, now nearly 24, and the profoundness of that statement hits me yet again as I watch him work toward his recovery. Not 70 days ago my son was actively using a mix of drugs that quite frankly should have killed him. Today, I see a young man changing before my eyes. Something is happening to him… never before in this winding, difficult journey of active addiction and clean days have I seen such a change. There is something drastically different.

This weekend we were at a family gathering, celebrating my sisters 50th birthday. She is much loved by all of my children. My son wanted to be there, I wanted him to be there. I knew there would be drinking and I warned my son of such.

He told me “mom I’m good don’t worry, I know I can’t go there”. In the past he would have laughed it off, insisted he could drink and for me to mind my own business.
This was so different… there was a steadiness about his response that I wasn’t expecting, but was thrilled with its existence.

As the party progressed, a few people there over indulged, people my son has looked up to over the years. I watched my son pull away from them and spend his time playing and swimming with the younger cousins, even starting a football game.

I took it all in, watching this man/child break away from his addictive habits of the past. In my mind’s eye I could hear again that little voice “something’s happening to me, something’s happening to me”. This time it’s not about being covered in bubbles, it’s about walking further down the road of his recovery, a few steps more than he’s ever been before.